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Council of Governors: Retract Air Force's Space Proposal

04-23-24 WR Space Govs WEBSITE
04-23-24 WR Space Govs WEBSITE
Washington Report

A bipartisan group of 10 state governors is urging the Department of the Air Force to retract Legislative Proposal 480, its plan to transfer the Air National Guard's space units to the Space Force.

The Council of Governors serves as the lead forum for increasing coordination between the federal government and state governments nationwide on issues including the Guard, national security and homeland defense.

"The Council of Governors respectfully, and with the strongest terms, objects to the Department’s proposal, LP 480," all 10 of the council's members said in a April 22 letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III. "We ask that the Department of Defense immediately retract LP 480, then discuss the proposal with governors in a way consistent with federal law and respectful of the role of the Council.

"Such disregard for the role of governors in these matters also harms the federal-state relationship pertaining to the National Guard," the state governors added. "Sidestepping the input of governors undermines readiness and impairs relationships."

The COG consists of Co-Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Co-Chair Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.

The council also includes leaders from across the federal government, such as the defense secretary and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Air Force officials are seeking Congress's permission to bypass federal laws and take away 14 Guard units in seven states without the required consent of these states' respective governors.

Language requiring this consent has been in both Title 10 and Title 32 of the U.S. Code for 120 years.

In an April 17 letter to President Joe Biden, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine opposed the move.

"As commander in chief of the Ohio National Guard, I retain the responsibility for these military organizations and their missions," he said. "Usurping this power would be unprecedented, and I respectfully ask that you do not do so."

The 14 units the Air Force wants transferred to the Space Force provide 30% of the U.S. military’s space operations squadrons and 60% of its electromagnetic warfare capability.

These units include approximately 1,000 Guardsmen across Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York and Ohio.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, the chair of the National Governors Association, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the NGA's vice chair, released a joint statement on April 9 calling for the proposal's withdrawal.

Polis also penned an April 3 letter to Austin arguing LP 480 "threatens the very existence of the National Guard."

Retired Maj. Gen. Francis M. McGinn, the NGAUS president, also called the proposal "an existential threat" to the Guard in an April 16 op-ed for Breaking Defense.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall referenced McGinn's op-ed during an April 17 House Armed Services Committee hearing.

— By Donald Lambert